Chuck Shepherd

San Francisco's best-paid janitor earned more than a quarter-million dollars cleaning stations for Bay Area Rapid Transit in 2015, according to a recent investigation by Oakland's KTVU. Liang Zhao Zhang cleared almost $58,000 in base pay and $162,000 in overtime, and other benefits ran his total income to $271,243. He worked at San Francisco's Powell Street station, a hangout for the homeless, who notoriously sullied the station 24/7 (urine, feces and needles, especially), necessitating overtime hours that apparently only Zhang was interested in working. In one stretch during July 2015, he pulled 17-hour days for 2½ straight weeks.

Wrong place, wrong time

An Abbotsford, British Columbia, burglar was successful in his Feb. 7 break-in at a home, but his getaway was thwarted by a snowfall that blocked him in on a roadway. He eventually decided to ask a passerby for help and picked out a man (of the city's 140,000 residents) whose house he had just broken into and who recognized him from reviewing his home's security camera footage. The victim called police, who arrested the man.

Everyday hazards

In Portland, Ore., in January, Ashley Glawe, 17, a committed "goth" character with tattoos, piercings and earlobe holes ("gauges") was, she said, "hanging out" with Bart, her pet python, when he climbed into one of the lobe holes. She couldn't get him out, nor could firefighters, but with lubrication, hospital workers did — avoiding an inevitable split lobe if Bart had kept squeezing his way through.

Living art

German art collector Rik Reinking paid the equivalent of about $138,000 in 2008 for a resplendent, complex drawing by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, but it was one created in ink on the skin of (the still-alive) tattoo parlor manager Tim Steiner — to be delivered only upon Steiner's death, when his skin will be displayed in Reinking's collection. The deal also requires that, in the meantime, Steiner personally showcase his back at galleries three times a year, and BBC News recently caught his latest appearance.

More things to worry about

The first robots to have survived journeys close to the "core" of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan (which melted down in a 2011 earthquake) returned a reading of 530 "sieverts" per hour. (Some scientists label just four sieverts an hour fatal to half the people exposed to it.) Since the robots stopped short of the actual nuclear fuel, and since they only visited one of the three cores, the true danger of Fukushima remains unknown. On a more optimistic note, scientists in February said they have developed a computer chip that would survive on the surface of Venus for 21 days, eclipsing the old record of two hours — long enough to send back meaningful data, including the temperature. The current estimated temperature is 878 degrees Fahrenheit.

Least competent criminal

Once again, in January, curiosity got the better of a perp. Adriana Salas, 26, allegedly stole a truck in Jonesboro, Ark., and drove it to Fort Smith, 260 miles away, but then could not resist stopping by the local sheriff's office to ask whether the truck had been reported stolen. It had; deputies, taking a look outside, read Salas her Miranda rights.

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